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virtual medical receptionist

 

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In the Press

 

 

 

‘The Osteopath' - 2006

When I started out building my business as an osteopath, life was simple and straightforward.  I had a steady stream of patients who miraculously arrived on time for their appointments and through word of mouth my practice grew at a manageable pace.  I would usually spend half an hour or so between appointments, returning messages and booking new patients into my rather dog-eared diary, and I have to admit to thoroughly enjoying the pace and autonomy of my newly founded practice.


Then one day, it all changed. My client list started to expand rapidly and I found I was turning up at my practice at 8am to fit patients in. The same started to happen in the evening, and I found I was keeping my practice open later and later in an attempt to accommodate the influx of stressed-out professionals pleading with me for after-hours appointments. Before long, I was working right through without a break, unable to answer calls from patients and instead, having to rely on them to leave messages.  More often than not, I would arrive at the end of my day feeling too exhausted to even contemplate returning a machine full of unanswered calls.

 

I knew I was starting to lose patients who needed the reassurance then and there that an appointment could be made for them.  The ones who did leave messages proved difficult to get hold of and when I eventually managed to get through to them, I often found they had gone elsewhere for treatment.  I thought about employing a receptionist, but I didn't really have the space and couldn't justify the additional cost, so I decided to look into the secretarial services that go under the heading of ‘virtual office' to try to find a solution to my dilemma.  I discovered that many of the services currently on offer are not aimed at health practitioners and are mostly reliant on relaying messages rather than making appointments, which would still have meant spending the latter part of my day returning calls.

 

I was aware that many large businesses used shared online diaries that could be accessed by different people and updated in real time.  Unfortunately, even the best virtual office companies could only offer very basic diary services which wouldn't allow me to make my own appointment changes in real-time.  I also found they weren't able to offer many of the other services I needed, such as invoicing, managing cancellations and sending out appointment reminders.  And anyway, I wanted real people behind my business, people with patience, knowledge and an understanding of my practice.

 

I finally gave up looking and decided the only answer was to create my own reception service.  Following numerous discussions and months of research, I came up with the concept of IdealReceptionist, which I initially trialled within my own practice and with a few close colleagues before rolling it out to other practitioners.

 

The difference between IdealReceptionist and other virtual reception services is that the phone is answered in the practice's name by a fully-trained, dedicated receptionist who is familiar with the practitioner's business.  This way, the practitioner gets to know his or her receptionist and in turn, the receptionist gets to know the practitioner's patients.

 

I must admit, when I first started out developing a second business, I found it rather daunting and a little overwhelming at times.  However, the phenomenal response received so far has convinced me that there are many other practitioners like me, who find they are treating the stress of their patients without having a solution to their own pressures.  Perhaps now they can do as I did and ditch their diaries in return for a professional reception service to help to alleviate many of the daily demands of a busy practice.